Is This Just Collateral Damage?

And does the Bush administration thus consider it excusable? Shame, if so.

Iraq’s health care a shambles
By LOUISE ROUG
Los Angeles Times

BAGHDAD, Iraq – Thousands of Iraqis are dying from shortages of medicine, vital equipment and qualified doctors, despite an infusion of nearly half a billion dollars from U.S. coffers into the country’s health-care system, said Iraqi officials and American observers.

Raging sectarian violence — as well as theft, corruption and mismanagement — have drained health resources and made deliveries of supplies difficult. Exacerbating the crisis, hundreds of doctors have been killed and thousands have fled the country. The child mortality rate — a key indicator of a nation’s health — has worsened since the U.S.-led invasion in 2003, according to Iraqi government figures.

In the most sinister development, provincial Sunni Muslim doctors charge that Shiites who control the Health Ministry deliberately withhold medicines and other vital supplies.

Once, Iraqi health care was first-rate. Medicine and hospital care were free; doctors well-educated and respected. But neglect by Saddam Hussein and years of United Nations sanctions laid waste to the system.

Across Iraq, many hospitals have neither computers nor meaningful patient files. Working X-ray machines and MRI scanners are few and far between.

At one of the busiest hospitals in Baghdad, five people die on average every day because medics and nurses don’t have the equipment to treat heart attacks and other commonplace ills and accidents, said Husam Abud, a doctor at Yarmouk Hospital. That translates to more than 1,800 preventable deaths in a year in that hospital alone.

Read it here.

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